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45 Years

on Jun 1, 2016

The husband of an older couple tells his wife that authorities have just discovered the body of an old girlfriend, Katya, who had disappeared in the mountains years ago. No doubt due to global warming, the body has suddenly emerged from a glacier that had kept it buried for years. Building on the short story’s central conceit, Haigh has the news arrive just days before Kate and Geoff Mercer’s 45th anniversary party. With each new day, Kate finds the knowledge of Katya’s body, the all too corporeal evidence of a world that existed before her marriage, eroding the safe domestic space she had built over the years.

Set in the misty landscape of England’s Norfolk Broads, and luminously shot by cinematographer Lol Crawley, the film starts as a chamber drama, before gracefully turning into a melancholic tone poem on the themes of love and loneliness. Both main characters confront the past that has suddenly invaded their present life in different ways. For Courtenay’s Geoff, Katya is an unfortunate reminder of his lost youth and his unavoidable mortality. For Rampling’s Kate, with whom the film is most concerned, Katya forces her to re-ask those terrifyingly existential questions that love makes us all ponder: “What can I mean to another person? Whom do I want to be with? Who do I want to be?” (Peter Bowen)

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